A strong senior class led the Newton football team to turn its season around and make the playoffs this fall, and those seniors were recently rewarded as the Class 3A All-District teams were released.
Six Cardinal seniors and one junior were named first-team all-district, while three other Newton players received honorable mention. The senior first-teamers were Derrick Hurt (DL), Collin Reynolds (WR), Andrew Clements (utility), Dakota Hills (DE), Jesse Bates (DB) and Ryan Jolivette (LB). Junior Will Brock (OL) also made the first team, while senior Michael Miller (OL), juniors Levi Michener (OLB) and Ray Schroeder (DL) and sophomore Tyler Wood (QB) received honorable mention.
Hurt (6-foot-1, 265 pounds) was a repeat selection as a defensive lineman. He's caused opposing offenses all sorts of problems for the last three years as a starter, and especially so this fall. He finished fourth for Newton in total tackles with 48, including 31 solo. His 11 solo tackles for loss (TFL) were just one shy of the overall district lead and he assisted on four more TFLs. He was a three-year starter on the offensive line as well.
Like Hurt, Reynolds (6-2, 175) also was a repeat first-team selection at wide receiver. He finished his prep football career as Newton’s most prolific receiver in school history by far. In 10 games this season, he led the district with 46 receptions, was second in yards 693 and had five touchdowns. In district games only, he led the league in receptions (29), yards (509) and TDs (4).
Reynolds shares or holds eight school receiving records: Career receptions (95), career yards (1,424), career touchdowns (12), single-game yards (177), single-game receptions (16), single-season yardage (731) and single-season receptions (49). He certainly has the size and play-making ability to play at the college level.
Clements (5-10, 160) was forced to miss the first three games of the season, but shined brightly enough the rest of the way to make the first team as a utility player. He did a little bit of everything for Newton this season and rarely came off the field, starting at wide receiver, cornerback, punter and punt returner. At wideout, he hauled in 15 receptions for 140 yards and a score. That score was a 52-yard game-winner to beat Adel-DeSoto-Minburn Oct. 5. At cornerback, he finished with 21 tackles, including eight solo and had one interception.
But Clements’ biggest impact was on special teams. The very first time he touched the ball this season — Sept. 14 against South Tama on Homecoming — he returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown. He finished the season averaging 25.7 yards a return on 10 attempts. At punt returner, he returned seven kicks for 76 yards. As a punter, he averaged 32.3 yards per kick, with a long of 56.
After earning honorable mention last year, Hills (6-2, 185) was named to the first-team this season as a defensive end/linebacker. He finished as Newton’s leading tackler with 70 total, including 42 solo. Seven of them were for a loss, and he had a team-high five sacks. As the Cards’ featured running back, he ran for 454 yards and six TDs on 123 attempts (3.7 yards per carry), and added 161 yards on 18 receptions.
As another two-way starter and senior captain, Bates (6-2, 175) made the first-team as a defensive back. He was Newton’s fifth-leading tackler with 40 total, including 25 solo and two for a loss. On offense, he had 182 all-purpose yards and two TDs.
Standing 5-10 and weighing 180, Jolivette wasn’t big in stature, but his instincts and tenacity led him to being a first-team all-district selection as an outside linebacker. He finished second on Newton’s defense with 68 total tackles, including 39 solo, six for a loss and one sack. In the regular-season finale at Ballard, Jolivette had six total tackles, five solo, 1.5 for a loss, one sack, an interception and he recovered a fumbled punt.
Brock (6-1, 215) will be one of the Cardinals’ top returning players next year after making the first-team as an offensive lineman. Brock was a two-way starter for a second-straight season, and figures to be next year as well. He also was a stud defensive lineman this fall. He finished fourth on the team with 64 total tackles, including a team-high 45 solo. He had eight tackles for a loss, two sacks, two fumble recoveries, an interception and two blocked punts.
Against Ballard, Brock had a game that won’t be forgotten. He had 11 total tackles — 10 of them solo — returned an interception for a TD and blocked a punt that was returned for a score.
Headlining Newton’s honorable mention picks was Wood (5-11, 165) — the first sophomore starting quarterback in Cardinals’ history. He finished second in the district with 1,299 yards passing, completed 105-of-189 attempts (55.6) with eight touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He’ll enter next season needing just 774 yards to become the school’s all-time passing yardage leader — a mark held by 2011 graduate Brian Rose.
Schroder (5-9, 215) earned honorable mention as a defensive lineman. He finished with 25 total tackles, including 17 solo, 3.5 for a loss and one sack. A two-way starter this season, he figures to be next year as well. Miller (6-2, 200) joined Shroder on the offensive and defensive lines this season, earning honorable mention on offense. On defense, he finished with 34 total tackles, including 24 solo. His 11 tackles for a loss in 10 games tied for Newton’s most and were one short of the district lead.
Last but not least, the undersized Michener (5-10, 165) received honorable mention as an outside linebacker. He finished seventh for Newton with 38 total tackles, including 31 solo, eight for a loss and had four sacks.
The Cardinals got off to an 0-3 start this fall and were 1-4 before winning their next four games to make the state playoffs for the first time since 2007. Their season was ended in the first round by Humboldt on Oct. 24. Newton finished with a 5-5 overall record and went 4-2 in District 4, placing fourth in the league.